Being Spiritual (ATP)
“I was chatting with someone a couple days ago and during our conversation, this person said they are not religious, but they are spiritual. I hear this quite often, but I am unsure what it means.”
Interestingly enough, the word religious is only used a couple if times in scripture and it’s always used to describe those who won’t be pure doers of the Word. However, people have different meanings of that word spiritual and also of the word religious. Many times when you hear someone say this they mean that they don’t go to church, don’t really seek after the God of the Bible (because of course, you can’t seek after God without His local church), and they don’t subscribe to true Christianity. People who say they are “spiritual” are the farthest thing from it.
Let’s look at what it actually means to be religious. If you’ve been around the Christian faith long enough, especially in a Word and Spirit church, you might have heard that our walk with the Lord is not about religion but about relationship. If you read in the New Testament about the Pharisees, you’ll see what religious people look like. When you look up the term religion in the dictionary you’ll get something like this, “a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.” This describes the Pharisees.
The Pharisees didn’t like that Jesus came and healed, they didn’t like that Jesus spoke with and reached out to sinners, and they didn’t like that Jesus and His disciples didn’t partake of the same rituals they thought they should. Romans 7:6 says, “But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” The Pharisees subscribed to Old Testament religion and weren’t interested in the manifestation of the power of God.
Look at what the religious Pharisees did in Matthew 9:32-34, “As they (Jesus and His disciples) went out, behold, they brought to Him a man, mute and demon-possessed. And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke. And the multitudes marveled, saying, “It was never seen like this in Israel!” But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons.” Because casting out demons didn’t line up with Old Testament religion and “law” they believed it was of the devil. Religion becomes ritual if you’re not careful. Religious rituals will keep you bound and hinder you from walking in the full potential power of God. The Pharisees were actually used of the devil to try to hinder the plan of God and they didn’t even know it. Many Christians today fall into this same category. Jesus told His disciples to beware of the leaven of the doctrine of the Pharisees. (Matthew 16:12) Leaven is a hidden substance that will permeate and modify or transform something. If we’re not careful religious mindsets will modify the way we see the Lord.
Though it’s not usually what people mean who make the statement from your question, true spirituality is following the full gospel. This means you don’t disregard scripture because it doesn’t line up with your ritual or the way you thought something was supposed to be. True spirituality isn’t religion. It is relationship. It is embracing the fact that you, as a Christian, are part of the body of Christ, one with Him, and in it together. Unfortunately though, many people end up in a ditch on the other side of the road, that being that they don’t believe they need “organized religion” at all. God had a plan to bring people into the highest understanding and greatest revelation of who He is and of who they are in Christ. That plan began with Jesus and when He left, He out that plan in the hands of His ministers (Eph. 4:11-12). Spiritual people understand this. They know that the local church is at the core of the heart of the Father, that a body must be connected to work properly, and that no part can do it all themselves.
I encourage you, with this understanding of what true spirituality is all about, next time someone says this to you, ask them what they mean by it. Don’t argue or get defensive, but see if you can enlighten them in love. The Lord wants a personal relationship with us, but He also wants us to partake of all the ways He’s given us to grow in our faith. Amen?